Holistic Approach to Wellness



More than 18.2 million people (or 6.3 percent of the population) in the United States have diabetes. There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs during childhood or adolescence. Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease, usually occurs in people who are 45 years of age or older. However, the rate of diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents is increasing in alarming numbers.

Diabetes Can Be Silent

Diabetes can go silently undetected for a long time without symptoms. Many people first become aware that they have diabetes when they develop one of its potentially life-threatening complications, such as heart disease, blindness or nerve disease.

Fortunately, diabetes can be managed with proper care. Diabetes is a chronic (life-long) condition that can have serious consequences. However, with careful attention to your blood sugar control, lifestyle modifications and medications if needed, you can manage your diabetes and may avoid many of the problems associated with the disease.

Diet is Key

For people with diabetes, a nutritious diet means paying very careful attention to things like serving size, carbohydrates, and mealtimes. Read food labels. You can begin to understand how different foods will affect your blood sugar by reading their nutrition labels. Two key things to pay attention to are serving size and carbohydrates. Eat whole foods low in sugar. Get good amounts of protein and good fats.

Definition of Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational Diabetes


Warning Signs of Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Recurring skin, gum or bladder infections

Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a disease that starts when the pancreas stops making insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar—also called glucose—enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, the cells can’t get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease that happens when the cells of the body can’t use insulin the right way or when the pancreas can’t make enough insulin. Insulin lets blood sugar—also called glucose—enter the body’s cells to be used for energy. When insulin is not able to do its job, the cells can’t get the sugar they need, and too much sugar builds up in the blood. Over time, this extra sugar in the blood can damage your eyes, heart, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a temporary form of insulin resistance that usually occurs halfway through a pregnancy as a result of excessive hormone production in the body, or the pancreas’ inability to make the additional insulin that is needed during some pregnancies in women without a previous history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy, but women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for later developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers have identified a small percentage of diabetes cases that result from specific genetic syndromes, surgery, chemicals, drugs, malnutrition, infections, viruses and other illnesses.

Complications of Diabetes

  • Heart disease and stroke Approximately 75 percent of people with diabetes will die of heart disease or stroke, and they are likely to die at a younger age than people who do not have diabetes. People with diabetes have the same cardiovascular risk as if they have already had a heart attack.
    People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease (more than 77,000 deaths due to heart disease annually). Heart disease death rates are also two to four times as high as adults without diabetes. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to suffer a stroke.
  • Blindness due to diabetic retinopathy
    Each year 12,000 to 24,000 people lose their sight because of diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age.
  • Kidney disease due to diabetic nephropathy
    Ten to 21 percent of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease. Diabetic nephropathy is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease (kidney failure), accounting for 43 percent of new cases. In 1999, 38,160 people with diabetes initiated treatment for end-stage renal disease, and 114,478 people with diabetes underwent dialysis or kidney transplantation. Kidney failure requires the patient to undergo dialysis or a kidney transplant in order to live.
  • Nerve disease and amputations 
    About 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of diabetes-related nerve damage, which can lead to lower limb amputations. In fact, diabetes is the most frequent cause of non-traumatic lower limb amputations. The risk of a leg amputation is 15 to 40 times greater for a person with diabetes. Each year, 82,000 people lose their foot or leg to diabetes.
  • Impotence due to diabetic neuropathy or blood vessel blockage
    Impotence afflicts approximately 13 percent of men who have type 1 diabetes and eight percent of men who have type 2 diabetes. It has been reported that men with diabetes, over the age of 50 have impotence rates as high as 50 to 60 percent.


Read more on Sugar and Sweeteners Explained


Resource: www.diabetes.org